Saturday, May 23, 2009


We arrived at Miami International Airport on Wednesday, May 20th. If you have to arrive in the US from South America, Miami is the place to go. The culture shock is minimized by the fact that everything is still in Spanish; we knew exactly where to enter (entrada), where to exit (salida) and where to go to the bathroom (banos). Very comforting!

I imagined the first picture in our return photo album to be the one from the airport that said Welcome To The United States of America. But there was no sign to take a picture of. I don't understand. We had one that said Bienvenidos Ecuador, Bienvenidos Uruguay... where was the one for the USA? Given the fact that we were arriving in Miami, I would have been happy with Bienvenidos Estados Unidos, but nothing. Are we really that unwelcoming?

We collected our luggage, proceeded through immigration and customs and headed over to Avis to get our rental car that would take us to Sun City Center (250 miles north west) where my Mother lives. I had reserved a full size car which would be the largest vehicle we've been in for a year, but we wanted to be comfortable for our 5 hour trip. When I checked in, Darleen, our faithful Avis representative wanted to know if we wanted to upgrade to an SUV. No, the full size is fine. Do we want a GPS system. No thanks, not necessary. How about a DVD player for the kids? An insurance package? A fuel package? I JUST WANT A CAR! TRANSPORTATION! SOMETHING A LITTLE LARGER THAN A TUK-TUK!

Needing to refuel the car (since I didn't get that fuel package), I pull up to the pump at the gas station. Do I want to pay cash or credit? I put my credit card into the pump. What is my zip code? Do I want a receipt? Do I want a car wash? I JUST WANT GAS!

The next day we take my Mom shopping for a table and chairs for her new home. We picked out a lovely set and when I go to pay the cashier wants to know if I am going to pay with cash or credit? Do I want to open a new credit account with Pier One and get a 10% discount? Do I want to be on their email list? I JUST WANT TO MAKE MY PURCHASE!

After having traveled the world for the past year I have come to see that America is the land of choices. But after having lived without all those choices for a year, I have come to realize that I really didn't miss having all those choices. In fact, life was a whole lot simpler when there was no choice. Didn't I feel deprived? No, not really. Has our quality of life really improved with all the choices that we have or has it just gotten more complicated? More time consuming? More confusing?

When I ask myself how has this trip changed me, I guess the first response will be "It has made me want to have a simpler life." But I'm back here in America so wish me luck.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


We surveyed the four participants of the One World One Trip Team for the Top Ten (Plus Two) of Ecuador and the results are in:

12. Our Quito apartment
11. Basilica del Voto Nacional
10. Palacio del Gobierno
9. Our final trip lunch at Patio Andaluz
8. La Compania de Jesus (Church)
7. Volcan Pichincha & the TeleferiQo
6. Jacchigua - Ballet Folklorica Ecuador
5. City of Quito
4. La Mitad del Mundo
3. Parque Carolina & Ceviche Chocho
2. Pululahua Experience: Crater, Hostal & Horse Trek


1. The Otavalo Indigenous Market and Fish Lunch

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


The next day started off bueno. We had a good breakfast and said our goodbyes to Noah who we really enjoyed talking to from the night before. Renato got the horses ready remembering my issue with a ring on the saddle which rubbed against my knee and lisa's sore butt. Our saddles now came equipped with sheepskin pads. So New Zealand! Cazoomba, my horse, took off from where he left off the day before - doing his thing regardless of what I wanted to do.

Today we are headed up. Up the crater wall to the rim. A hill climb!! Trekking in the ANDES!!! Our plan is to traverse up in the morning, have lunch, then head down, walking our horses in the tough spots, in the afternoon. Sounds like a plan.

The riding was initially easy and our backs and legs were good. Soon the horses started to labor as we gained altitude. The trail was muddier than anticipated and sometimes the horses slid. As a result, the girls got a bit skiddish. So we dismounted and walked our horses awhile (up the mountain) till we got to more stable ground - which ended up being all the way to the TOP!...of the trail. In some ways I got "closer" to Cazoomba by walking him as his head would nudge me and I would turn around and pet him. Nice boy! Renato said we only had a short way to go (South American minutes: Five minutes promised equals thirty minutes in reality).

Finally, at the top (exhausted) we gladly remounted and proceeded along a dirt road to around 10,450 feet. We stopped when we found a nice lunch spot. We had Rento's ham and cheese sandwiches and watched the clouds go by below us. A magnificent setting. Best lunch seats in the house!

Afterwards we headed onto a trail, into the cloud forest. It was mystical, kinda like a "Lord of the Rings" filmset. But the mystical feeling was soon broken. All of a sudden Siena starts crying...She's been kicked by Tarzan, Avocet's horse. I jump off, go to her, take her boot off and examine her left leg. She is in a panic so I just hold her leg. She is letting me touch it so it's not broken. It must have been a glancing blow and she starts to settle down. Renato infers that Tarzan, might have kicked back because Zeus, Siena's horse, could have bitten him. Horses are unpredictable animals. Renato tells us now to keep our distances between horses (a bit late in telling us).

We soon get to a point where the trail gets tougher: narrower, steeper and very muddy. Since there hadn't been heavy rains for a week, Renato thought the trail was going to be dry - WRONG. This isn't a place for beginners! A joint decision is made to go ahead and dismount and walk until it gets better. Renato walks his horse and Tarzan while I walk the other three. lisa and the girls walk last.

Ready for more excitement???? Tarzan, a seasoned horse of at least sixteen years, slips on the narrow, muddy trail and his 800+ pounds tumbles down the hillside into a thicket of bamboo. I am the first to see him with his head bent between two bamboo stalks. My first thought, "What if Av had been on his back when this happened?" Renato calmly ties up his horse while I tie up the remaining three. He decends the hill, assesses the damage and finds Tarzan OK, with a slight cut on the left side of his head. Renato starts to cut the bamboo with his machete attempting to clear a less steep way out, while I amble down to hold Tarzan's reins. Tarzan is agitated and ready to get out of there. As Renato whacks away, Tarzan gets more excited. Is he going to stomp on me or what? Thankfully the cleared trail to the top is ready and Tarzan scampers up, like a cat, stretching his legs and finally leaping to the top. Cheers go up from all. Just another day at the office, right? Renato is having a bad day: never had a horse kick a kid, never had a horse fall off the trail, never had to have his riders walk the ENTIRE WAY DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. Let's get the hell out of this mystical forest!

The girls are unhappy. We are spending more time off the horses than on. Renato is stressed because this is the worst day he has ever had doing this. Let's just get back to level land and go home. After an hour of walking in boots that are designed to protect your legs and not to be hiking boots, our feet are getting sore. Great!

We arrive at the crater bottom and decide to take the longer but easier dirt road back. All remount except me. I try to get back up on Cazoomba but he will have none of it. Clearly he has liked my almost two hundred pound butt off his back. I try another time...up and over...and down I go on the other side. I'm OK, but Siena, after being kicked and watching Tarzan fall, starts to freak out. I quickly run over to her, raise my arms over my head and give her a big grin. Doesn't help.

Renato and I switch horses. Nice saddle. You get one of those when you are the boss. Cool. Nice horse Noel, much more sedate than the skiddish Cazoomba. But he won't budge on the downhill. lisa and I are what appears to be a quarter mile behind the girls and Renato. Finally he moves, but almost immediately gets spooked by an imaginary animal off to the left. Great, now this. He starts down the hill and I can tell he's not comfortable. He does this little nerveous thing with his feet and I decide I'm off of this dude. I walk another quarter mile until we get to Renato and the girls. I remounted and a half an hour later we reached the stable.

The horse trek in the Andes was supposed to be our coup de grace of Ecuador and the whole trip. It didn't quite turn out that way. Today was a tough day. It was supposed to be a blast. It wasn't. It was dangerous. The girls were scared a lot and lisa felt that bad decisions were made. What a way to end it. But it was a real adventure.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Horse Trekking Day One

In Uruguay, we wanted to go horse trekking for three hours or so. The only horse trekking company available did more farm activities than horse trekking which we were not excited about. When Mom said that there's horse trekking in Ecuador, we decided on a two day, with overnight, trek in the Andes Mountains.

Our horse trekking adventure began in the Pululahua Crater which is the largest and only inhabited crater in South America. It is also the only crater in the world that has farming and farm animals in it.

The day we arrived, we did four hours of trekking. Good practice for the next day! We started on open, but deserted roads, and then turned onto smaller trails. The trails featured beautiful scenery and landscapes. It was awesome! The Pululahua Crater was a very pretty place to go horseback riding. Most of the trails were thin and so wooded, that our legs kept running up against the "wall". We were ever so thankful for the lended rubber boots that provided us with "safe feet". Stopping at the two hour point for a snack did us good and Avocet and I practiced mounting our horses by ourselves! When we started heading back, the clouds started coming in, this is a cloud forest! After horse trekking, we retired to the Hostal, where we sat in the Jaccuzzi talking to Noah, someone we met along the trail. We had lots of fun the first day!

Pululahua Hostal has 5 dogs; Mystica, Ping Pong, Scotie, Rocky and Polilla. Mystica and Polilla are Mom and Dad, with the three boys. They are all quite naughty, and while we were riding, they bothered more than 1 or 2 donkeys, cows, chickens, pigs, and horses. Ping Pong and Rocky look alike with black and white hair, while Mystica is a pit bull/boxer with tiger stripes. Polilla (pronounced Po-leash- a) is a golden retriever and Scotie looks most like him, a yellow labrador. They followed us both days up and down the mountains, chasing animals and having a blast!

~Siena & Avocet

Zeus, Siena's horse

Tarzan, Avocet's horse

Lucero, Mama's horse

Kuzumba, Daddy's horse

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Anyone who knows me knows that I cook quite a bit - sometimes simple and sometimes gourmet. This is true on the road as well but on the the road I cook only simple. So here I am making sauteed chicken with boiled carrots and rice for dinner perfectly timed for a 6:00 meal. The table is set, the wine is poured and I go to take out my rock hard carrots and my partially cooked rice; what is going on here? I blame the uncooked carrots on the fact that Marty has cut them way to thick and the rice problem is due to the fact that I can't get a flame low enough on this propane stove to properly cook rice.

Several days later I'm making steak with broccoli and potatoes. Same scenario only this time my broccoli is rock hard and the potatoes are a little on the raw side. I cut the broccoli so who do I blame this time? I cook the broccoli for additional 20 minutes and the potatoes for 15 minutes more and serve them with the cold steak. What is going on here?

Altitude! We all know that altitude makes breathing harder since the air density is lower (less oxygen in the air). But did you know that due to this lower density air, water boils at a lower temperature than it would at lower altitudes? If you thought that boiled water is boiled water, guess again. At home, boiled water is 212degrees, here in Quito, it is only 185 degrees. So even though you are cooking something in boiled water, it is not as hot, so it will have to cook for longer - maybe even twice as long!

This is not a big secret, it's just that the people in Colorado forgot to tell me to start dinner twice as early as I would if I were at home. Thank God I didn't try to bake!

Friday, May 15, 2009


As mentioned before, Quito stands at an elevation of 9,300 feet. This altitude has had an impact on all of us. When we arrived here we anticipated being out of breath. What we didn't expect was the same occurrence a week later. Every time we walk up the stairs to our 4th floor apartment, we are reminded we are not at sea level. lisa and I have also had dull headaches when we get up in the morning. Our sleep is also affected, not sleeping well at all. We are tired a lot. When I lie awake lying on my back it is hard to catch my breath. I can feel my diaphragm laboring. It's funny that rolling over on my side makes a big difference. Just sitting here writing it's hard to get a really deep breath. Not satisfying.

Changes in elevation in our travels here make a difference too. We dropped to around 8000 feet on our day trip to La Mitad del Mundo. Much, much better. At the other extreme, taking our one hour trek yesterday between 13,400 feet and a touch over 14,000 feet was exhausting. I was gasping for breath and taking short steps to proceed upward. Our twenty minutes of just hanging at one place felt really good. Surprisingly, it wasn't bitterly cold . lisa and I have frozen in the past when we were at elevations lower than this. Being on the equator allowed some hikers to the Pichincha Volcano peak at 15,800 feet to go up with just t-shirts. We shed our three to four layers of clothes when it got too hot.

Dumb me. Of all days to forget to put on sunscreen. We were exposed for only a couple of hours and I now have the worst sunburn since the head has been shaved. The sun is much more intense at the equator than at the 39 degree north latitude we have at home. And it's much more intense at 14,000 feet than near sea level.

Negatives, negatives, negatives. On the positive side it's beautiful here. I look out the window while washing dishes and see the mountains loom over the beautiful Basilica a couple of blocks away. While on the trail at altitude, I observed alpine grasses with red, purple or yellow flowers all the way to 15,000+ feet. Gorgeous. They even have dandelions up this high!

I like mountains. Always have. Our trip to the higher elevations here was a “high” I wanted the whole trip. And I finally got it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Otavalo, South America's Largest

About 2 hours drive from Quito is Otavalo, South America's largest... what? Guess what it is; we've been to ones in The Netherlands, Slovenia, Thailand, Laos, Australia, Chile, Argentina and now, here.

IT'S A MARKET!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And from the title of my blog, you can probably tell that it's large. They sell all kinds of Andean and Ecuadorian crafts from dolls to blankets. The bus ride up was looooooooooooong and because they stopped at every clustering of people they saw, (possible money...) it made the ride "bumpy". We finally arrived at Otavalo town. If we thought people in Quito were wearing more traditional clothing, almost all the ladies in Otavalo were wearing Andean costume! We headed down 3 blocks, finally arriving at the market.

And they had tons of stuff! Alpaca blankets, alpaca sweaters, alpaca ponchos, llama stuffed animals, llama wall hangings, slippers, bags, hammocks, clothing, purses, dolls, and repeat it all again. We ended up buying, well, a lot. But you can bargain and the prices out there are cheaper than Quito to begin with, so a lot of stuff isn't as expensive as it sounds. And we are getting rid of some stuff in our suitcases here anyway...

We finally decided to head back home around 4:00, getting home at 6:00, another long bus ride. We thoroughly enjoyed Otavalo!!!


The One World One Trip Team has voted Otavalo the best market in the world!!!! No, literally.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Every place people live has a certain rhythm. Lots of factors can contribute to the rhythm of a location but typically the principle factor is established by the seasons. Here in Ecuador, there are no seasons as we know them. They will refer to summer or winter but basically it has to do with the amount of rainfall. Here on the Equator; January is pretty much the same as March which is pretty much the same as June which is pretty much the same as...

When I think of the Equator, I think of hot, very hot, sweltering hot. But here in Quito, at an altitude of over 9000 feet it is not hot. And again, because we are on the Equator, the weather is pretty consistent year round - about 68 degrees during the day and about 50 degrees during the night - 365 days per year! Because of the intensity of the sun, that 68 degrees feels warmer on a nice sunny day. Long pants, a short sleeve shirt and sandals work just great. In the evening, add some socks and a light jacket and you're in business. I could really get used to this. Houses don't have air conditioning, you don't need it, and houses don't have heat, you don't need that either. Imagine that utility bill at the end of each and every month!

Time is also different here. No daylight savings time - no spring forward or fall back. No long days in the summer and short days in the winter. Here at the "middle of the earth", each and every day is the same; 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. The sun rises at 6:00 AM and sets at 6:00 PM. Because of this, it seems that life begins earlier in the day and ends earlier in the day. We have been here a week now and we can't seem to sleep past 5:30 and trust me, it's not from lack of trying. Needless to say, by 9:30 PM we are ready for bed. When you walk out your door at 7:00 AM and the streets are bustling and the trollies are jam-packed, you see that everyone else is on the same schedule. It's a rhythm that after a while you stop fighting and just go with.

Monday, May 11, 2009


We left our apartment in the Centro Historico of Quito and headed for La Mitad del Mundo – the Middle of the World. The equator is 22 km from the center of Quito. 22 km in a city this size equals 90 minutes travel time (on public transportation). At home this is the distance from our house to Tri-County mall (30 minutes tops, by car). And thanks to the makers of Dramamine = No bus sickness for our three ladies. Yay!!

We arrive at La Mitad del Mundo and first observed the famous monument that has the “line running through it”. We all had our requisite photos taken straddling the equator, one leg in the Northern Hemisphere and the other in the Southern. That's what you do here, take pics to prove you were here. It wasn't great fun, but you can't visit Quito and pass it up. How fun can a “line” be, anyway? We finished our photo shoot and headed into the monument/museum. This small, but nice “museo” gave descriptions of the various indigenous peoples of Ecuador. To add to our experience, we also viewed a room size scale model of Colonial Quito. The girls were bored with an exhibit of the history of the “Making of the Equator," but I really enjoyed it. It went from the need of the French king in the 1700's to settle a scientific dispute between the theories of Sir Isaac Newton and __________(can't remember name) regarding the shape of the Earth, to the eventual naming of the new nation Ecuador after this imaginary line running equidistant between the poles. Good exhibit for Marty = Geeky.

A side note. We met a nice family from New York. The father was Joe Berlinger, a documentary film maker. His most famous film was “Paradise Lost”, about a trial of three teenagers for murder, simply because of their dress style and music preferences. He and his family were in Quito because his current documentary “Crude” was the opening film at an International Film Festival being held here. It is an inside look at how Texaco polluted the Amazon and tried to get away with it. Watch it at your local theatre.

After a day of being equatorial, we headed back to Quito with the “equation” La Mitad del Mundo = Good Day

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Donde Es Sacagawea?

In the U.S., it's a rarity to find a Sacagawea dollar. When you find them, most people put it in their coin collection, rather than take the chance of using it and not getting another. We still mint the coins, so where is Sacagawea? Down here in Ecuador.

In 2001, Ecuador converted to the U.S. dollar, explaining the 1 to 1 exchange rate. For some reason, all the Sacagawea dollars got dumped down here. At the end of the day, you may end up with 5-10 of them. I got 2 from ONE purchase today!

Ecuador's money situation is strange (READ: absurd). They use American bills, dollar coins and cents such as dimes and nickels, but they also have Ecuadorian Centavos, worth the same as their American counterparts. Why are they worth nothing in the U.S.?

We've discussed the money situation down here so much that Dad finally got onto the computer today and googled the topic. Most people commented about the Sacagawea dollar down here but not up there. Several said that when they saw a Sacagawea dollar in the States, they thought that it was counterfeit! Goes to show you that people really don't see them up there, they are all in Ecuador.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Getting High in Quito, Ecuador!

Most of you probably know of Ecuador because the equator goes through it. What you probably don't know is that the Andes Mountain range starts here, it hosts the largest market in South America, and that the Amazon River goes through it. The only place we're staying in Ecuador, is Quito, the capital city.

What a travel day! To get to Quito, we had to take a plane from Montevideo, Uruguay to Lima, Peru, and then a plane to Ecuador. And we almost missed the plane to Quito too! I bet those people in the airport thought we were mad, running through the gates. At least we didn't miss the plane though!

We are staying in the old town of Quito, but the city stretches far beyond it! Quito is a huge city in a huge valley surrounded by the Andes. It's very pretty and the mountains make for good pictures, especially behind the Basilica.

The Basilica, also very big, just like everything else around here (except for the people!) is gorgeous except for those two clocks. They're hideous! The second day we were here, we climbed the two towers. Great views!

Quito will have been the highest city we've been on this trip altitude wise. It's about 9,895 feet up! We are still acclimitizing and it's still hard for us to breathe. I hope we get used to it soon!

Ecuador is very different from all the other parts of South America that we have visited (excluding Chillan), because it seems like South America. In Valpariaso, Buenos Aires, and Montevideo, it seemed so European. Here in Quito, it's anything but European except for some of the architecture. You'll even see ladies walking in the streets with Andean clothing on! I never saw that in Buenos Aires! It's good to have a change from what we've been visiting.

So far Quito has been very nice and I can't wait to do more stuff here!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I remember it like it was yesterday; well, maybe like it was six months ago. We arrived in Luang Prabang, Laos and it felt like a monumental event. Why? We finally hit the second column on the back of our trip shirt. As we traveled through Europe then into Africa, it seemed like we would never get to that second column and finally, we made it – coincidentally at around our six month point. Now, here we are, in Quito, Ecuador, the last city at the bottom of the second column.

Time is such a strange thing. On the one hand, a day or a week can pass so slowly but then you wonder what happened to the whole month – it just flew by. Our friends Sean and Dianna and their family spent a year living in Paris the year before we left and I remember asking them, “Did the year pass quickly or slowly?” "Both", they said. "Some months and seasons went quickly while others went more slowly". I too can say the same for our year abroad. Some locations flew by while others seemed to last forever.

Now that we are on the home stretch, time seems to have slowed down. I guess you could say that that is a good thing since it enables us to better enjoy the last days of our journey. But at this point, everyone is anxious to go home and sometimes a day feels like it is lasting forever. If Avocet and Siena had their way, Quito would be bypassed completely and we would be heading straight back to the US!

But TACA Airlines has only taken us as far as Quito and the flight to Miami doesn't leave for another 16 days. From Miami we will drive to Sun City Center where my Mother lives, and visit with her for two weeks. It was originally suppose to be only one week, but she has not been well for the last eight months so we arranged to cut Quito short by a week and spend extra time with Mom. It will be wonderful to be there with her for 14 days but also difficult. We will be so close to home yet so far away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


We surveyed the four participants of the One World One Trip Team for their top ten (plus two) of Uruguay and the results are in:

12. The meat of Uruguay - Entrecote, Lomo, Hamburguesa and Chorizo
11. Reserving horse camp in Cincinnati
10. Talking about home
9. The Internet with our Claro modem stick
8. Leaving Uruguay
7. Walking on the Rambla in Montevideo
6. Museo Gaucho y la Moneda
5. Teatro Solis and the Brazilian Ballet
4. Plaza Independencia and the General Artigas Memorial
3. Paddleboating at Parque Rodo
2. Palacio Salvo and our apartment there


1. Our beach day at Piriapolis

Monday, May 4, 2009


Have you ever gone to a really nice restaurant, one that is touted by friends and critics alike, and just not enjoyed your meal? Is the restaurant really not that great or did you just order the wrong dish? That's how I feel about Montevideo, Uruguay. In fact, that's how I feel about South America in general so far. Since we left our friends in Chillan, Chile, I haven't been that thrilled with South America. Is it that South America is not my cup of tea? Or is it just that we ordered the wrong dish from the menu i.e. we didn't pick the right cities/countries to go to on this continent. Maybe Peru, Brazil or Boliva would have been more to my liking. Someplace where there is an indiginous population versus a population of European descendants.

Of course, there is another factor to take into consideration...timing. Here we are in the last month of our trip. We have been there and done that all across the globe. Would anyplace really be new and exciting at this point? Would Montevideo, Uruguay be one of the highlights of my year had it been one of our first stops vs. one of our last? I'm thinking not, but I can't say for sure.

I can still remember my mental state one year ago in May of 2008. I was physically still in Cincinnati, still in the US, but emotionally, I was already going around the world. There was still some planning left to do, still loose ends to tie up at home, but I didn't want to be making plans for the trip any longer, I just wanted to be ON IT!

Now, here it is, one year later. There are lots of mixed feelings about coming home but either way, we will be home in just over a month. Our daily "To Do" lists include not only things like buy more leche, see Presidential Home and buy tickets for the Brazilian Ballet. It includes things like, sign up the kids for summer camp, contact school regarding enrollment for next year and find out date our renters will be moving out. Aspects of home have fully infiltrated our lives here in South America and like it or not, had a impact on our emotional state.

So we pass our time here in Montevideo checking out the Carnaval Museum, looking at historical monuments, browsing the market and planning for our return home.

It will be interesting to see what Ecuador brings. I hope we can go out with a bang and not a bust.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Piriapolis is a seaside resort ninety minutes, by bus, up the coast from Montevideo. Seaside resorts have seasons; we are here on the last day of April (equivalent weather wise to October 30th at home in the northern hemisphere) so we are definitely here in the off season. Why go here off season? Because it's on the trip shirt, of course!! When I planned Argentina and Uruguay about eighteen months ago, I knew this would be our last chance to be at the beach. And we like the beach.

We arrived and found the place deserted. As we walked along the sidewalks, few places were open. Restaurants were closed, souvie shops closed. They apparently didn't know we were coming!!! We visited the information office and found out about things to see and to do. Most were kinda boring, to be honest. So get on with it, Marty. Why blog about a boring place? Well...

Walking down the "Rambla" here we walked slowly and just talked. About home, about some of the people we have met, some of the places we have been, about anything. Deep down I feel we knew that we could just relax...we didn't have to "do" anything. We could just walk and "be". The air temp was cool, in the low sixties, but the sun intense, as it is in southern South America. We came upon a chairlift which took us up the hill to a shrine of San Antonio. People had thanked him with professionally made cards for the birth of a baby or a good event in their lives. When we came out you could see all of Piriapolis town, the pretty bay, ships in dry dock...all "resting". Little traffic. No noise...nice.

We ambled down to the two seaside "Pescaderias" recommended by the Information Office only to find them both closed. I would be closed, too. No one around! None of us got upset knowing that we would eventually find some place to eat. We happened upon a place that served us an okay meal (expensive at $50+ with only a rating of 78 out of 100 by lisa) but had good atmosphere. We have been together almost 24-7-365 and you would think we would having nothing else to talk about but we thoroughly enjoyed our ninety minute repast. Nice view of the sea and the waves on the beach. No pressure to leave. No place really to go. Just a pleasure to enjoy "good" (78 rating) food and good conversation.

After lunch we walked to the beach. We were the only ones on it for awhile. Took off our shoes and just relaxed. The girls and I walked down and found a dead dolphin on the beach. Poor fellow. Av and Si then went off exploring in the dunes. lisa found a warm spot out of the wind and "chilled out". I joined the girls and threw them around like I did in the past. Just a Daddy playing with his kids. Nice. We rejoined lisa to find her accompanied by a brown setter, laying down close to her. I went over and he immediately wanted to be petted. Eventually I laid down beside him and we just relaxed. Good dog, Fido. Av, Si, Fido and I went back up the beach. Fido tried to bury the dead dolphin by throwing sand over him. One of those things animals do, I guess. I was aware this would be my last view of the beach and water for awhile so I sat quietly by myself and just listened to the lapping of the waves. Earlier in my life I used to say when I was absorbed by the waves that I was "hearing" the face of God.

Temps got cooler so we decided to head back. After an hour or so walking (with Fido chasing every car) and just looking around we were back on the bus heading for Montevideo. Our day was not exciting, not really interesting, nor a lot of "fun". But, for me, it was a GOOD day. A REALLY GOOD DAY.